Saturday, May 31, 2014

Love, Love, Love, Hiking!

Brian and I may not have a whole lot in common, but when it comes to hiking, we were a match made in Heaven! We both love to pack a picnic lunch and go hiking. We also like to try new parks and trails. We'll chalk up today's adventure as a success! We took the drive southeast, and it was a drive, but worth it. We ended up at Tippecanoe River State Park. 

It was a beautiful drive too. I really don't think I could live that far out in the middle of nowhere though. We did however find a new favorite spot. They have great trails, camping, and canoeing. And look at that beautiful view off one of the trails. There was only one downside to the day, we forgot the bug repellent! And we actually like to think of ourselves as seasoned hikers!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Project 365 - Week 21

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 141 -We are still taking our walks five days a week. This is one of the roads that are on our walk, right near our house.

Day 142 - This has been a Cabernet sort of day!

Day 143 - Every now and then we go to the casino in town. Once again I lost. But I'm cheap, I only take $20. I was up to $40, perhaps I should have cashed out while I was ahead?

Day 144 - Thousands of tadpoles on top of the pool cover! All gone now because the cover came off. I felt guilty and sad because the poor little things never got to be frogs.

Day 145 - Sunday breakfast at Schoops. Our favorite Sunday morning spot! They had little flags on the tables for the holiday. I tried to uncurl the flag but it kept going back to it's curl.

Day 146 - We have the pool close to being open. All we have left to do is to put in the steps and get out the furniture for both decks, and of course adjust the chemicals. I was also testing my camera phone to see if it takes good pictures outdoors. I'm quite happy with it!

Day 147 - Oh Punkie! She's such a ham for the camera.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Info on Bubba

First, thanks to all who commented and emailed me about Bubba. We have high hopes that he will be fine, but with his situation, you never really know. He gets bladder stones and has had two surgeries because of them, and he's been blocked a few times which required emergency visits to the vet. The last surgery was an emergency because stones were stuck in the urethra which caused a major blockage. Doc was able to remove them but there was so much damage and necrotic tissue (dead tissue) that the opening never closed all the way. This hasn't been a big problem until recently when he started leaking from that opening. He really has no control over it. However, with all that said, he's a very lucky dog. Most dogs with that severe of a blockage, and that much damage to the urethra, plus so much necrotic tissue, don't survive.

For the past few years he's been on prescription food which should keep the stones at a minimum but we still see small stones occasionally.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Project 365 - Week 20

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 134 - We never know what we're going to see on our daily walks. Today we saw this new family!

Day 135 - Poor Bubba! Because of his bladder problems, he now has to wear a diaper. He's adapting quite well though.

Day 136 - Mother Nature needs to get her months straight!

Day 137 - The backside of my newest mug rug patterns. Before attaching that backing fabric of course.

Day 138 - New growth appearing on the pine trees in the backyard.

Day 139 - This is a little gift I received from my Mom the other day. Everyone knows how I love my owls!

Day 140 - Snapshot from my phone. Storms were rolling in. We didn't lose power though. Now that we have the whole house generator we'll probably never lose it again.

On the bright side, I think winter has finally left!

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Favorite Sewing Supplies, With Name Dropping!

You might remember a recent article I wrote, Sher's Sewing Essentials, where I showed you the items I'd be lost without in my studio. This article is a little different because these are supplies that you can run out of if you don't watch your stock. They are also the supplies that are needed for creating your small quilting projects and items where you'll use appliques. I'm going to show you the must have items that I like to keep on hand. It's kind of like having things in the kitchen that you don't want to run out of such as salt, catchup, tea bags, etc. If you like to make small quilting projects, or machine or hand applique, you'll find this article helpful. And I'm even dropping names here!

If you have brands that work well for you, and you are happy with them, I say to stick with what you know works well! This article might be more helpful for beginners or people who are not sure which will give their project the best possible result without having to try several brands before finding one that works.

With the exception of the spray, all the other items can be purchased by the yard so you can really stock up like I do, or you can just get a yard or less if that's all you need.

Totally Stable Stablizer by Sulky: In my opinion, this is the best of the best! This is perfect for doing machine applique on tote bags, aprons, children's clothing, curtains, everything! You iron it on for a temporary hold, then you tear it away after stitching. I don't use this when using machine applique on my mug rugs because I use a different technique, which I'll share at the end of this article.

Basting Spray: The two brands I like best are the June Taylor and Spray N Bond. Both brands work very well and I've never once had a gummed up needle. I've made over 200 mini quilts, table runners, and mug rugs in the past couple of years with excellent results. You would not believe how using a spray instead of stitching or pinning will cut your basting time down when making small quilting projects. Unbelievable! My advice, give it a try, but use your JoAnn Fabrics coupons to get it at half price because it ranges from $10 to $15 a can. But even at full price, it's so worth it!

Heat N Bond Lite Paper Backed Fusible Webbing: This is what I use for all my appliques, and only this! It goes on evenly, and the backing peels away so easily. My local stores quit carrying it about a year ago so I bought another brand (who shall remain nameless) and started working with it when I got home. It didn't fuse on evenly, the adhesive was splotchy, and getting the paper backing off was close to impossible! After about thirty minutes of struggling, with something that shouldn't have been a struggle, I hopped on the Internet and ordered a five yard package of this.  I go through a lot of it so as soon as I open one package up, I wait for my next (40% OFF) JoAnn coupon, and order another one. You can also get it pretty reasonably priced through I learned my lesson the hard way about letting my supply get too low. 

It's important to buy the "Lite" because it's designed for stitching through by hand or by machine, and it won't gum up your needle.

100% Cotton Batting: There are a few brands out there, and for this one, I don't have a preference. I just prefer cotton batting over polyester. When I first started using batting many, many moons ago, I started using the polyester. Once I started using the cotton, I never used the polyester again. I just really like the less puffy look that the cotton gives, plus there's less shifting. This of course is a personal preference but in my studio, you'll find a heaping pile of the 100% cotton.

Pellon Fusible and Non-fusible Fleece: This may be last, but it most certainly is not least! I love this stuff and I use it to line tote bags, purses, mini quilts, mug rugs, Christmas stockings, you name it! When I use the non-fusible, I do use it as if I was using quilt batting. I stitch through it every few inches to keep the fleece from shifting around after the project is complete. The fusible fleece is what I use for my mug rugs because if performs double duty. As you can see in the image below, when making my mug rugs, I just fuse this to the wrong side of my fabric, arrange then iron my applique pieces to the right side, then use my machine to stitch the appliques to the background fabric. I stitch right through the fusible fleece while it acts as my stabilizer! And for those wondering, I've never once gotten a gummed up needle. Since the mug rugs are so tiny, I just add a backing fabric and a binding, and no additional quilting stitches are needed.

I hope you have found my list of favorites helpful, but most of all, I hope I have inspired you to create something fun for yourself, or someone else! Have you never made a mug rug before and want to give it a try? I have a mug rug tutorial right here on the blog, or of course you can choose one from the huge selection I have at my shops (links at the right).

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Tuscan Linguini

I got a few requests for this recipe. It is supposed to be the copy cat version of Noodle's and Co., but to be completely honest, it doesn't taste anything like the original dish. But it is so delicious. I also adjusted the recipe a wee bit after I made it the first time.

1 box of whole wheat or whole grain linguine
2 heads of broccoli
3 to 4 cloves of garlic
1 large red onion
1 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
6 tbsp of white wine vinegar
1/2 cup of white wine
1 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 tsp ground black pepper
6 tbsp cream 

Grilled chicken breast (sliced) for each person. 
Grated Parmesan cheese (see note below)
Cook your linguini noodles. 

Cook your red onion in oil until it softens. Add garlic, broccoli, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Pour in the vinegar and wine, let simmer for a few minutes. Add the cream.

Serve over noodles, add the grilled chicken breast, top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Don't use the Parmesan cheese that comes in the plastic jar by the pasta sauce. Use the real grated Parmesan cheese that comes in the bags by the other fresh cheese, or  you can grate it yourself. Believe, me this makes a difference!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Project 365 - Week 19

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 127 - This has been the week of driving to the yard waste dump. It's a pretty drive through the country.

Day 128 - I just love my smelly things! Candles, candle melts, reeds, you name it. I just love it when the house smells pretty.

Day 129 - Tuscan Linguini was so delicious! I'll share the recipe soon.

Day 130 - That is our crab apple tree that is in the truck. Time to cut it down. The deer will be so mad at us! Unfortunately the previous owner of the house planted in right above our septic tank. Why would someone do that?

Day 131 - My mother's day gift from Baby Paige and family. On the other side of the planter are her footprints. You know me, and you know I'll end up killing the plant, but the pot will be so cute in my sewing studio holding supplies, don't you think? 

PS...Sorry I didn't post a pic of Baby Paige but I never even took my camera out of my purse at the family party!

Day 132- I have wanted one of these for as long as I can remember! They are so nice for pressing the seams of quilting projects. I think I put my 40% OFF JoAnn's coupon to very good use.

Day 133 - Was so excited to find this cow print! I put it to good use while designing this cute mug rug pattern that is available in my Craftsy Shop or Etsy Shop.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Turtle and My People!

I love turtles, they are too cute! We saw this little guy while we were hiking trails in Michigan a while back. We have a pond down the street from our house and there are several there as well. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten out of my car to move one back to the pond when I see them in the road. I'm so afraid they are going to get hit by a car.

Also, you might notice that I've just added a blog roll to my blog! It's at the right, under the picture of hubby and me. I do plan on adding more blogs to it, but for now I wanted to start with "My People." So if you see your blog there, you are officially one of my people!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Rocky Road Brownies

These brownies are so easy and they taste so good!

20 Fun Sized Hershey Bars (about 2 1/4 cups, cut into small pieces)
2-1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup chopped nuts
1 package (13x 9 size) brownie mix

1. Stir together marshmallows, chocolate bar pieces and nuts; set aside.

2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Bake brownie 2 minutes less than recommended baking time; sprinkle marshmallow mixture over brownie surface. Continue baking 3 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed and lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Using wet knife, cut into squares. Makes about 24 brownies.

I actually got this recipe from the Hershey website. The original recipe calls for Hershey's Miniatures, but I couldn't find them so I used the Fun Size. Also, I found that it took more than 3 minutes of baking time for the marshmallows to slightly brown.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Easy Quilt As You Go Table Runner Tutorial


I love table runners and I have a couple in the works that I'll use for tutorials here on the blog. This table runner is so easy, especially if you use the fusible interfacing fleece, you'll want to make one for every season.
Finished size: 15 1/2 x 40 inches
You can make this any size you want by adding or subtracting strips, but if you want to increase the width, you will want to use strips longer than the 22 inches. Do keep in mind that if you do that, you won't be getting the most of your fabric because this type of fabric normally comes in 44/45 inch widths so you'll need twice as much, unless you are using all scraps.

Another variation would be to make your strips different widths instead of cutting them all at 2 inches.This is a great idea especially if you are using all scraps.

What you'll need 

2 x 22 inch strips of various fabrics (appx. 30)
~~My runner took 30 strips. Yours could take more or less depending on the length of your runner.
1/2 yard of fusible fleece interfacing
1/2 yard of backing fabric
(3) 3 x 44 inch strips for binding
Thread to match fabrics
General sewing supplies such as pins, needles, cutting tools, sewing machine, and a steam iron.

Note: I like to use the fusible fleece interfacing because it makes this runner so quick and easy. You can use cotton or polyester batting if your prefer, but you will have to baste it to the backing fabric since you won't be fusing. I like to use basting spray for this type of project. You will also want to machine baste all the way around your two layers if not using the fusible fleece. Also remember that if you use a puffier batting, it can reduce the finished size of your runner. No basting will be needed if using the fusible fleece interfacing.

Also, you can always click on the photos to see them full sized.

1.  Cut the fusible fleece 16 x 41 inches. Cut the backing fabric a little bit bigger than the fleece interfacing you just cut. Fuse the fleece to the wrong side of the backing fabric. Be sure to follow manufacturer's instructions for the brand of fleece you are using.

2.  Trim away the excess backing fabric so it's even with the fleece.

3.  If you want your strips arranged in any specific order, you'll want to lay them out on top of your fleece/backing piece, and overlapping each other by 1/4 inch. Mine took 30 strips but remember, the beginning and the ends of your stitching them on, you won't use the entire 22 inch lengths. Also, it doesn't hurt to cut a few extra strips than what you think you'll need. After I stitched mine down, I ended up cutting two more to complete my table runner. Once you are happy with the arrangement, stack them up in the order you'll be stitching them so you don't get them mixed up.

4.  It's time to take your fleece/backing piece and your strips to the sewing machine where you'll stitch them all on. Begin by stitching your first strip to the corner by placing it at an angle. Slight angle, dramatic angle, whatever you want, it's your runner. I think I did mine just under 45°. You'll need to cut your strip down so that not so much is hanging off the sides, but save it, just in case you need it at the end. Just be sure that all your fleece is covered completely by the strip. 

Stitch this one down with the right side facing up, along the edge closest to the center, keeping your stitching line under 1/4 inch from the edge of the strip. You can also tack down the other edge near the corner if you want. This is the only one you will place with the right side facing up. 

Take your next strip and place it with the wrong side facing up, and line it up with the longest edge of the first strip (the edge toward the center of the runner, not the corner), so the two edges line up. You'll need to use pins to keep the strips from moving during stitching. Stitch this piece down along that edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. 

When you place this strip down, you will want to make sure that when you flip it over to the right side (for your next step), the strip covers all the fleece. You'll probably need to trim this one too. Now that you've stitched it down, flip it over and hand press it in place. 

Stitch your next strip to this one the same way you just did this second strip. Remember to use pins to secure, make sure no fleece shows through after stitching, and use a 1/4 inch seam allowance on each strip. Continue until all strips are stitched in place. When you get to the last strip, you can tack the strip down at the corner if you wish.

5.  Take the runner to your work table and flip it so that the bottom is facing up. Trim away the excess strips that are extending beyond the backing. This is also a good time to square up the corners and trim the sides and ends so they are straight and even. I used a ruler to mark my runner at 15 1/2 inches wide and trimmed it down. 

6.  If you want to make some decorative machine stitches along the seams of the stripes or on the stripes themselves, you can do that. The stitching that you already did to attach the strips is enough "quilting" to hold everything together nicely. The addition of any stitching would be for decoration only.

Applying the binding:
1.  Combine the three 3 x 44 inch strips of fabric to make one long piece. You will do this by placing them on your work table, with right sides together, by forming an “L.” Take a ruler and draw a line on the diagonal at the corner. It will look as if you have a triangle at the corner. Stitch on that line. Cut away the corner about 1/4 inch from the stitching line and iron the seam open

2.  Fold one of the short ends of this long strip 1/4” to the wrong side and iron in place, then fold the entire length of fabric in half lengthwise with wrong sides together, and iron.

3.  Beginning at the center front, along the bottom edge of the runner, and using the edge that you ironed in at 1/4", pin the binding to the quilt with the raw edges of the binding even with the raw edges of the runner.

Before you do the remaining edges, you will stitch this section in place using a 3/8” seam allowance. Begin your stitching at the folded end of your binding, and stop your stitching 3/8" from the corner. I like to run a couple of back stitches at the beginning and ending of my stitching to secure seam in place. Do not exceed your 3/8” seam allowance. Remove project from machine and take back to the table.

Note: If you are familiar with mitered corners when stitching your binding down, you will probably be able to sit at your machine for this step. If you are new to this technique, it will be easier for you to take your project to the table so you can follow the illustrations easily.

4.  Flip your binding piece down forming a fold at a 45 degree angle. Then bring the binding back down so that the fold in your binding will be even with the raw edge at the bottom. Your raw edges of the binding will be even with the raw edges of the runner.

5.  Secure with pins and stitch in place just as you did with the first edge stopping 3/8" from the end. Repeat these steps with remaining corners. With the remaining corners, you will also be starting your stitching 3/8” from the corner too. When you get to the end, leave an overlap of at least and inch and trim off the excess binding before stitching that final section down.

6.  Trim off excess threads and remove basting stitches that might have been left behind or exposed. Flip the folded edges of the binding to the back and pin in place. Hand stitch binding to backing.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Project 365 - Week 18

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 120 - New Recipe Night! Tried this copycat recipe for Noodles & Co. Penne Rosa. It was so good that we have added it to our list of favorites. Want to try it for yourself?

Day 121 - Hello May! For those following my quilt block of the month, this pattern can be picked up at Craftsy or Etsy.

Day 122 - Did a little fabric shopping! OK, more than a little.

Day 123 - Babysat baby Paige while Mom and Dad went out to dinner for Mom's birthday. She napped a little in her Nana's arms :)

Day 124 - Took this photo while we were on our daily walk. The house is on the market and unoccupied so I was able to walk up to the tree and get a good closeup.

Day 125 - Poor Brian! As much as he tries to bundle up while cleaning under the pine trees, he still gets poison ivy so bad. He's being treated for it now.

Day 126 - Went to our local dump yard to drop off our brush (that's all that's allowed there) and it looks like some kids were there before us. They arranged large wooden pieces to spell out "PROM." I added some light highlights so you can see what I mean.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Giveaway Winner Announced!

Congratulations to
 Angela Flowers-Moore
for winning my book giveaway!

Email was sent last night but if you didn't get it, contact me with your information and I'll send you the book.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Noodles & Company Copycat Recipe - Penne Rosa

We like to try new recipes regularly and the most recent were two from Noodle's & Company. I'll share the other one later (forgot to take a pic). A couple days ago, we tried the copycat version of their Penne Rosa. It was delicious! There are actually a couple recipes out there, for this dish. The company actually puts one out itself, on their website, but I didn't try that one which is completely different than the one that I tried. I did try the one for their Whole Grain Tuscan Linguini and although it was good, it tasted nothing like the original.

This Penne Rosa recipe was so good and it was pretty close to the original dish. I followed the recipe exactly. Also, it's a little spicy because of the red pepper flakes so if spicy isn't your thing, you can lighten up on.

Again, I must say this dish was YUMMY!
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